Marianne – A Netflix Original

IMDB Score: 7.5/ 10

My Score: 8.8/ 10

There’s a unique charm in watching something in a foreign language. I have always been fascinated by foreign-language and have watched Japanese, Korean, Spanish and French films. Even though I don’t understand what’s being spoken, I always watch it at full volume. It’s not just the language spoken, but there are many differences in the way different cultures express themselves. In the same situation, a Japanese would react differently than a French. They would both curse differently, exclaim differently, express their emotions differently and even would have altogether different body languages. I don’t claim to be an expert on these things, but that’s what I have observed. 

Having said that, it’s quite obvious I would have a bias towards Marianne as it is a French horror series. However, I’ll try not to let it affect my review. It is quite possibly one of the best horror series I have watched ever. One of the rare gems produced by Netflix, the series is the story of Emma, a successful and eccentric French horror writer. However, she is soon forced to return to her hometown after a bizarre visit from a childhood friend. The work she writes is supposed to be fiction, but is it? 

Ok, that’s as spoiler-free a synopsis as I could write. I’ll try to keep the review as spoiler free as possible. Let’s start with a Warning: If you have a weak stomach or a low tolerance towards dirty, gory horror then be warned. There’s not a lot of it, but it’s there sometimes, and so you should avoid watching the series while eating. That being said, the series is superbly paced, highly-gripping and has an awesome plot-line. Unlike many others, the horror elements start giving an appearance right from the start and you don’t have to wait for the story to develop slowly and gradually. Even then, it doesn’t feel rushed or out of place, but rather the plot develops around in the background pretty nicely with the horror making regular visits in between. The lead protagonist is a writer and so the plot moves brilliantly, just like in a book with pages flitting between scenes, chapters introducing each set of events. The story is even made to coincide with the story written by the writer, relating the books written by the author to what’s happening with her. Even though the story seems pretty straightforward, there are enough twists and surprises to keep an air of mystery throughout the series.  

The acting of all the actors is above average and quite brilliant by the lead stars. They even mask off the rare dull moments in the story and the weird reactions and expressiveness by some of the cast keep you entertained throughout, especially by Emma and her best friend Aurore. You might feel for a moment that it’s overacting until you realize maybe this is how Aurore is. Or maybe it’s just the way people talk in rural France (no offence). Actually, I think I’m smitten by Aurore. I just enjoyed watching her a lot. She’s cute, adorable, beautiful and quirky (this word sums her up perfectly.I’m definitely watching more of her movies). In any case, after some time it feels quite natural and not forced (Aurore’s my favorite). Even the chemistry between the friendship of Emma-Camille & Emma-Aurore is quite funny and enjoyable. 

Just look at her, who wouldn’t watch anything starring her? I could watch even the most boring soap operas if it has her

The horror elements are inspired from European folklore during the Middle-ages, especially the regions near Germany and France. There are quite a lot details shown in the series about witches; what is a witch? How they perform various rituals, witchcraft practices etc. These details, though fictional, look and feel quite believable and feel drawn from actual sources, that is to say, it’s quite well-researched. 

Right from the first episode, after the bizarre encounter with her friend, Emma Larsimmon, the lead protagonist is forced to visit her old hometown, a small village in the coastal region of France. The village plays an important role in contributing to the scare-factor with a spooky-looking lighthouse, weird villagers and empty streets. At times, one might think there’s something wrong with the entire village and it’s all haunted. In the beginning, it feels everyone behaves weirdly, even the priest of the village. However, the weirdness doesn’t seem to affect the characters in the story as much as it does to us and you understand why once you start connecting the dots towards the end. 

And that’s why you should regularly visit dentists…

More often than not, the best parts of horror movies/ series are always the middle parts. That’s because the horror elements are at quite near the peak towards the middle once you start understanding more of the story. As a result, it becomes difficult to maintain that level of horror without a slump till the end. Also, the end has to come up with a bigger peak than the middle to successfully qualify as a climax. And as such, while watching the series, I was afraid there was going to be disastrous ending which will disappoint me. However, I was in for a surprise as I was proved wrong and the series had one of the best endings it could. The story culminated in quite an unexpected and anime-like manner, while still maintaining its character, without going into a slump. That’s partly also because the series didn’t only rely on jump-scares but had horror infused into the plot-line at its core. And yes, you’re left asking for more by the end of it, and you’re not disappointed as the story ends perfectly with a promising cliff-hanger. 

All in all, I can’t recommend it enough, and would strongly advocate towards watching it. However, I was at first perplexed looking at the show’s ratings on IMDB, a meagre 7.5/ 10. I say meagre because, I’ve observed TV-series are generally quite highly rated and a good show can easily garner ratings above 8-8.5, with the great ones taking ratings near 9.0/ 10. However, when I read through the reviews I understood the reason behind it. People are quite polarized with regards to the show with ratings given in the extremes; people either loved it or hated it. Though I couldn’t quite understand why anyone would hate it, maybe my bias worked in its favour. Either ways, it’s definitely worth a watch and I would love to hear your feedback on the series. Please share your reviews and ratings if you’ve already watched it. If not, go watch it and then share them. Go go go…

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